Monday, March 10, 2008

My first exercise

Just returned from my first field exercise. I'm told it really wasn't that similar to what the "real Army" does, but this is probably as close as I'll ever come. We slept in big tents - I'm thinking 15-20 men apiece. Each one had 3 hanging lights and a heater slash A/C unit that arguably worked - lukewarm at night, freezing by morning. When we arrived the tents were already set up, I had an assembled folding cot, a Rubbermaid bin, and half of a small portable clothes hangar rack. Not too shabby - it felt like RV camping.

The bathroom was a short walk from my tent. We had toilets and (very) hot water - I swear they must pressurize it to keep it from boiling. If someone was rude enough to flush the toilet without loudly yelling, "Fire in the HOLE!", you'd hear loud angry screaming of everyone in the communal shower - the scalding hot water probably didn't burn you, but it sure felt like it.

Army Chow was significantly better than I expected. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but I always enjoyed it. Just slightly below a normal military mess hall, which is just slightly below dorm food - but great considering that we were standing up in an alternate location.

We wore body armor, a load bearing vest (I left my canteens), gas mask suit (behind my left thigh), and helmet. The Army issued me an ACU patterned helmet cover that didn't match my uniform. Guess I should have bought a matching one and affixed my name and insignia - whatever. We also carried our primary weapon everywhere. For many it was an M4/M16, I had an M9.

You can tell it wasn't that cold since I didn't bother to put my gloves on for that picture. They're the big bulge in my right pocket. Pictured with me on the left is Gil, my High School wrestling buddy's cousin and coach's nephew. Funny that we should bump into each other like that. He came and kicked my butt a couple times as an assistant coach when I was a senior. I didn't realize that he was stationed at Travis then. We didn't recognize each other until we were chatting halfway through. On the right is Rich, my co-worker. We have a lot of fun in times to come!

The exercise was a really long week. Guess I learned a lot firsthand about how we conduct modern warfare.

There's a picture from the victory party. We were celebrating our win (surprise, surprise) with our Korean counterparts who we'd been working with all week.

I was slow on the camera. I missed the RV that had a bicycle taped on - yes tape, they'd created a web of packing tape to hold it on. This overpacked blue truck was the next car in front of it. They must have been traveling together. I'll never get tired of sights on the roadways.

Pictures here.